CONGRESSMAN Francisco Benitez of the Third District of Negros Occidental filed a bill on March 8 that will strengthen the regulation of ships to prevent oil spills and the discharge of harmful substances into the sea, following the catastrophic oil spill in Oriental Mindoro recently.
House Bill No. 7515 provides for the strict enforcement of the regulations under the 1973 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and its 1978 Protocol, or MARPOL 73/78, which was signed in 2001.
"We signed MARPOL 73/78 in 2001. An implementing legislation is long overdue. We must keep our commitment to international law, and perform our responsibility to protect the environment," Benitez said.
"We cannot let another oil spill happen again. Its damage to the marine environment is just too much. It is impossible to express the negative impact to livelihoods and marine ecosystems in monetary terms," he stressed.
"This bill is crucial in protecting our marine wealth and promoting the blue economy to ensure sustainable development of our marine resources for the benefit of present and future generations," Benitez added.
The bill empowers the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to strictly enforce shipbuilding standards and ensure that ships are constructed and equipped with materials and apparatus to prevent the discharge or emission of oil, sewage, garbage, and other harmful substances and pollutants into Philippine seas. It also mandates the Philippine Coast Guard to apprehend and detain ships for violations of these regulations.
The bill also imposes fines of up to ten million pesos on ship owners for violations. Proceeds from penalties will be used for clean-up and containment of spilled or leaked substances.* (PR)
The oil spill in Caluya, Antique. (PCG-WV photo)
March 09, 2023
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